It’s hardly a secret that the lodging industry labor shortage has hotel HR departments working overtime. Thanks to low unemployment, higher minimum wages, and changes in immigration laws, the labor pool is unusually low, and employee turnover is exceptionally high – 70% annually. With labor costs already the largest line item on hotel balance sheets (and expected to rise two to three times faster than revenue), finding and keeping qualified staff is more critical than ever. Here are three steps every lodging organization can take to minimize the impact of the ongoing shortage of workers.
1. Retain your hotel’s labor force with “cross fit” training
The first step to take is to make sure you not only keep your best employees but that you also make the most of their talents. So, while a well-trained employee is a more satisfied and effective in their given role, a cross-trained employee is also more flexible and valuable.
For example, you can train a concierge to take on check-in duties or instruct housekeeping personnel in simple maintenance tasks. This will help you more quickly handle the ebb-and-flow of employee turnover, preserving the guest experience and even enhancing an employee’s own sense of job security and empowerment within the organization.
2. Serve up labor-savings with self-serve technology
Another way to save on labor while improving the guest experience is to be smart about employing technology in key service roles. App-based check-in or lobby kiosks can cut a guest’s wait time as it cuts your labor costs. Mobile messaging systems, either via app or text, can let guests make services requests without waiting for an employee to answer a call, write the request down, and enter it manually into a system.
There are also dedicated hotel workforce management software systems that can streamline, monitor and optimize your workforce operations. Some of these systems claim to reduce overall labor costs by as much as five percent.
3. Use green, clean policies and products that help save work (and the environment)
One of the less obvious, but still powerful, options for dealing with the labor shortage in lodging is to have policies and products that reduce waste (both in materials and time). It’s fairly common now to be greeted in one’s hotel room with a fancy note on a pillow suggesting that linens and towels only be changed when really necessary, to avoid overuse of water and energy.
This does, as promised, prevent environmental waste, which is of great concern to a growing number of guests. It also, obviously, saves on labor costs, given less changing of sheets and washing of towels.
However, what’s also obvious to guests is that your suggestion may actually be more bottom-line friendly than purely eco-friendly. To show that your environmental intentions are truly sincere, it’s wise to stock your rooms with recycled and waste-reducing products, thereby demonstrating a true commitment to the environment, and further encouraging guest participation in these efforts.
The lodging labor shortage may be long-lasting
The shortage of workers for hotels and resorts is unlikely to improve anytime soon, which makes improving your approach to labor management and utilization all the more crucial to your success. These three steps are just a few ideas to help with the planning, innovation, and experimentation that’s required to discover what works for your property’s workforce.
Lodging magazine: Recruiting and keeping qualified hospitality employees
Amadeus Hospitality: How to reduce employee turnover at your property
Zingle: 3 ways to improve hotel operations and reduce labor costs
Hotel Management: Training a hedge against rising hotel labor expenses
Hotel Tech Report: Here’s how to boost NOI